Hosts Rwanda got off their campaign to a winning start thanks to a lone goal victory over Cote d’Ivoire in the tournament opener on Saturday at the Amahoro Stadium, Kigali.


Defender Emery Bayisenge was the hero for the Amavubi with his well-taken free-kick on the quarter-hour mark separating the two sides.

It was the perfect start the host nation needed to get the packed crowd at the national stadium which included President Paul Kagame on their feet and leave the venue in an exciting mood.

The Amavubi had the better of a first half that saw the Ivorians rarely threaten their opponents backline.

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Their promising start paid off with the opener coming after only 15 minutes after Ivorian defenderGbagnon Badie fouled Celestin Ndayishimiye at the edge of the penalty area. Bayisenge elected himself for the resulting free-kick, curling straight into the net for the goal that turned out to be the winner.

The whole stadium erupted into ecstasy after the goal and the host pressed further for the second.

However, an improved start by the Ivorians upon recess forced the Amavubi into their shell and keeping the defence busier.

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Rwanda had a good opportunity to solidify their lead on the hour mark from a penalty on the hour-mark after Bayisenge was fouled by Koffo Boua in an off-the-ball incident from a corner.

But Bayisenge was denied by ‘Les Elephants’ goalie Ali Badra Sangare, who stretched his fullest to save from the short distance.

The pendulum then swung in favour of the West Africans, with several raids into the Amavubi defence. Goalkeeper Eric Ndayishimiye was to his side’s rescue with a save from Djedje Guiza on 75 minutes.

The host survived a late scare on 89 minutes after Guiza’s volley bounced off the crossbar with Ndayishimiye completely beaten.

Rwanda leads the pack with three points and Cote d’Ivoire, whilst Gabon squares Morocco in the other Group A match later at the same venue.